Peaky Beach Break With Occasional Salt Water Croc Sighting Becomes One Of The Most Protected Surf Breaks On Earth - Stab Mag

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Yeah, this seems worth protecting. Mikey February, standing guard. Photo by Jimmicane

Peaky Beach Break With Occasional Salt Water Croc Sighting Becomes One Of The Most Protected Surf Breaks On Earth

Former Stab High venue Playa Hermosa is a World Surfing Reserve.

elsewhere // Jun 14, 2022
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

There are many good waves in Central America. Most don’t have crocodiles, but a few do. 

Among the spots that share these qualities is Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosa, the site of last year’s Vans Stab High presented by Monster Energy, which was just named an official World Surfing Reserve. 

In a nutshell, the designation comes from the Save The Waves Coalition, which protects wave-rich locales around the world that score high on key environmental, cultural, economic and community factors. Basically, you need a damn good wave, or many good waves, in a culturally or environmentally significant coastal zone to get on this list. It ensures that local environmental agencies aren’t alone in protecting their waves from pollution and development that could harm the waves and the economy they support.

Playa Hermosa — when it’s good, it’s 4 miles of this. Photo: Jimmicane.

Over the weekend, STW and several partners officially dedicated Playa Hermosa, a remarkable biodiverse ecosystem with 61 threatened species in the Punta Mala Wildlife Refuge, as one of 11 protected reserves. You may have heard of the others. The United States’ two sites are Santa Cruz and Malibu. The Central and South American spots include Guarda do Embaú in Brazil, Punta de Lobos in Chile, Mexico’s Bahía de Todos Santos and Peru’s Huanchaco. In Australia, there’s the Gold Coast, Noosa, and Manly Beach. Buck can tell you all about Ericeira in Portugal. North Devon in the United Kingdom was just nominated and will be next on this list.

With a stiff current and punchy peaks, Playa Hermosa is often hailed as a warm water Ocean Beach (the San Francisco one). Unlike its northern brethren, it’s a perfectly puntable playground for those willing to send caution to the tropical winds. 

This wave-rich zone (and Matt Meola’s tenacity) was a key reason Vans Stab High presented by Monster Energy was so entertaining last year. On overheard, barreling runners, you had guys going above the lip where most would have happily tucked under. There are more than 15 spots that span big beachies, point breaks and rivermouth peelers (Did someone say crocs?) and everything in between. 

Not unlike Stab High’s own gathering of international talent, last week a ton of visitors and locals alike enjoyed a festive celebration at Playa Hermosa that included representatives from STW, the World Surf League, Conservation International-Costa Rica, the National Conservation Area System and the local mayor. 

“As surfers, we have a responsibility to protect our favorite waves and shores,” said world No. 2 and Costa Rica’s own Brisa Hennessy. “Playa Hermosa is one of the best waves in Costa Rica and is located in a biodiverse region that is in danger of pollution and development. This project will support conservation actions with local partners to help conserve this beautiful area.”


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